Don’t Be Silenced

black and white black and white depressed depression
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

On Thursday morning, with wind chills hovering around -35, I awoke to discover my furnace had stopped working.  Despite having had it serviced during the summer (admittedly, something I had never done in all my years as a homeowner), the pilot light went out and refused to relight.  I called for service and then lit a fire in the wood stove in my living room and turned on the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar for the heat to escape.  There, in my layers of clothing, I waited in the frigid stillness of the early morning hours for help.   Rather than worry about pipes freezing, I sat calmly, very aware of the absence of panic in my body.

Only twenty minutes after calling, the technicians arrived.  They quickly diagnosed and fixed my problem ~ simply a bad sensor.   As they wrote up my invoice, they reminded me of a maintenance agreement I had taken out during that summer cleaning that was saving me $50 on their house call.  I had forgotten all about it.

Perhaps to some, this incident would seem like a tragedy simply averted.  To me, it had the hand of God all over it.   So when my turn came to offer my praises to God during Sunday worship service, I was happy to tell of His generosity and goodness in the expedited 6:00 a.m. service call, the quick fix, the unexpected savings.  I rejoiced in the back up heat sources and in the calm spirit in which I waited.  He had been there with me, sitting in the living room in the dark, in silence.  I appreciated that and wanted Him to know.  I wanted everyone to know!  I had even written it all down so I wouldn’t miss anything when sharing my praises.

And then it happened.  As we left the service, a woman turned to me and said, “Dawn, you didn’t have to write that down.  You could have just said ‘Praise God I didn’t freeze!'”  There it was, hitting me right in the most vulnerable part of my being, the part that worries that I’ve spoken too much or said the wrong thing.  My constant companion:  feeling like an idiot.   Immediately, I felt embarrassed at having shared my story.

I wonder how many other people thought I was on too long,” I silently worried.  I headed home kicking myself.   For days, I would think of it and instantly feel embarrassed that I’d spoken up.   A moment of agony would creep over me before I could push it down and away.

Today, during my normal early morning scroll through Face Book, this scripture appeared from a site I follow:   “You, O God, make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.” (Psalm 65: 8b)

“Wow,” I thought.  “Wouldn’t it be a real shame to allow something so minor as my embarrassment and insecurity to keep me from praising God and sharing His goodness with others?”   And, in fact, that would be the other side winning if I did.  I recognized that I was being silenced.  Not by the woman who joked with me after the service, but by the enemies of shame and insecurity and embarrassment.

Regret for having spoken up was replaced with a gentle reminder that I should never be embarrassed to give God props.  Psalm 51: 15 says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise”. 

This week, I look forward to more great things that will require a full “Praise Report” on Sunday morning.   While I probably won’t report anything that requires writing it down, I make no promises.   Pastor may just want to give me my own time slot.

 

 

 

Changing It Up!

I have always had a passion for arranging furniture.   As a young 20-something living at home, my mother was subjected (almost weekly) to the thunder above her head as I moved my bed and dressers single-handedly.    I’d “walk” the dressers, one end at a time, scooting them a few inches one way and then scurrying around to the other side to lift them forward another few inches.  Back and forth I’d go until they were where I envisioned them.   I liked mixing things up, having a new “look” to the room without having actually purchased anything.  I loved chasing away the staleness simply by moving things around.

Re-arranging furniture became a passion that followed me into my own home.  As husbands go, I was lucky enough to have married not one, but two, who were extremely tolerant of my obsession.  My first husband, however, used to say that if ever he were to come home in the dark, he’d kill himself because nothing was where it was when he left.  My current husband says nothing and lets me to my business.   We have some “rules” about where his chair can and cannot be, but that aside, he lets the placement of everything else in my hands.

Physically arranging rooms gives me a sense of having some control (over what, I’m not sure)…and a nice sense of temporary satisfaction.   It’s a channel for nervous energy.  When the next wave hits, you can find me hip-checking a chair across the floor.

Of course, the older I get, the less I can do this.  At least not alone.   At 50, I’m much too tired to try out my arrangements by myself.  Instead, I sit and wish for the sofas to be in a different configuration and wait for my husband to return from work.  Inwardly, I cringe when I ask him to humor me, once again, and move not only the sofas but the other pieces as well.  (He knows I have to move the whole thing.  Move one piece and it throws everything off!)

It’s been said that our actions reveal our thoughts.  If that’s true, one would think I am never satisfied for very long, that I constantly need change.   But that would be a big fat negative, and I’m done with those.    I would argue, rather, that my passion/habit/whatever  has taught me things about myself.  For instance, it has revealed…

  • I like “options” and lots of them!
  • Exercising is evil unless I’m nesting and then it’s actually blissful.
  • This is the only time I don’t mind sweating.
  • Shuffling things around is a challenge that appeals to both my task-oriented and problem-solving personalities.  (Yes, just two of many.)
  • Finding a new, pleasing room arrangement is like solving a large puzzle!
  • I’ve finally learned how to watch my toes and not run over them with heavy objects.
  • It’s a great opportunity to clean the places you don’t normally clean.  (Come on!  Admit you don’t vacuum underneath the couch every time!)

So great is this love, I’ve actually re-arranged the rooms of two friends’ homes.  At their request, of course.

round robot vacuum
Photo by Jens Mahnke on Pexels.com

Yes, I’m slowing down a bit now.  Technology has supplied compulsive personalities like mine with apps that do this very thing virtually.  I haven’t tried them.  It seems almost, I don’t know, sacrilegious.    It doesn’t come with the same satisfactions, or the same health benefits that the real deal does.  And let’s face it… someone still has to clean underneath the sofa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is No Bed of Roses…

Diane's rose
Photo by Diane Markley

I was nine years old when Lynn Anderson’s “I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” first aired on the radio.   To this day, I can still sing every word of that song.   “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.  Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime…”  Even at a young age, I understood the meaning of that song.

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow we’ve passed down, generation after generation, an unspoken belief that life is supposed to be a bed of roses, and that hardship and suffering are to be avoided at all costs.  Despite our best efforts to dodge disaster, personal or otherwise, mankind has never been successful in leading a completely “rose-y” life-style.   All of us at one time or another have thought if we could just manage our lives correctly, if we could control every circumstance, we would never suffer.

But in the absence of hardship, without suffering, there is no drive for humans to glorify God.   In fact, it’s during times of trouble when God is most near us.  Psalm 145:18 tells us “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.”  I don’t know about you, but that’s the only time that I call upon God.  When things are going swimmingly, I tend to grow complacent, thinking that all is right with the world because I’m crushing it at my job and in my relationships.

Then disaster strikes.  We lose a job or discover an illness.   A loved one dies.  All of the sudden, we’re on our knees begging to know why, begging Him to deliver us from the mess and the hurt…but only because we’re at the end of our rope.  In our weakness, we suddenly become receptive to Him and open to doing things His way, rather than our own.    All of the sudden “Thy will be done” doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Personally, it took a mighty long time for the words “Thy will be done” to have any real meaning.  Sure, we say it in the Lord’s prayer, but most of us rarely mean it.  And if we do relinquish control as a last resort, it’s usually while we’re clenching, thinking “at least until I get out of this mess!”   When life finally rights itself, we take back the wheel and commence driving our own vehicle.

But what if we could trust God completely?  What if we could be convinced that He is good and merciful, kind and loving?    According to Psalm 84:11, He is just that.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

We think turning our lives over to God would mean suffering.  Some even believe that God causes the suffering.  While God never promised there would be no suffering, He did promise to care for us.   “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.   In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  In other words, He promises to be right there with you in your suffering and offers to give us peace in the midst of pressure.

But what good is that to me? you might ask.  I don’t want Him to just be with me, I want Him to alleviate my suffering.

The answer to that is in His word.    In fact, the Lord directs us to “fear not” roughly 74 times in scripture.   He also offers repeated reassurances and promises to increase our strength, to uphold us, and to never forsake us.  (Read Joshua 1:9; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Isaiah 40:29; Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 41: 13; and my favorite, Isaiah 41:10.)   It is in these scriptures that we find peace, calm, and healing.  In these passages, we are given clues how to handle what life throws at us.

Diane's Red Rose
Photo by Diane Markley

So rather than clenching, experiment with widening your arms and looking to heaven while praying “Thy will be done.”  Release the need to determine your outcome and control your suffering.   Because despite the beauty of rose gardens, thorns and stings can still happen there.  But we can walk through this life, enjoy all it has to offer, and weather the storms when we look to God to help us.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46: 1-2).

 

 

 

 

Christ May be at the Border: A Christmas Message to Christians

jesus christ figurine
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Our nation’s new slogan, “Make America Great Again”, was masterminded by a political machine that purports to be of “conservative Christian values.”   However, everything behind this slogan is anything BUT Christian.   Targeted at a specific audience, namely, the middle and lower working classes, it hit a nerve and made some believe that America once was great, but is no longer.    Stirring the masses, “someone” had to be blamed for the fact that it was no longer great.  That “someone” turned out to be immigrants and incoming migrants.

Any self-respecting Christian knows the story of how Mary and Joseph were turned away from potential shelter, thereby birthing their son in a stable.  As Christians preparing to celebrate said birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born of migrant parents in a land far from their home, we need to check ourselves.

While we decorate our homes, buy gifts, and claim “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, but simultaneously support the notion of a border wall and the detention of migrants reaching out to us for assistance, I am reminded of Matthew 25: 31-40:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

In other words, those who reach out to help those in need will be rewarded in Heaven.

Since getting caught up in the immigration blame-game, we failed to pause long enough to realize that our nation is still great, as is evidenced by those coming here in droves to seek opportunity, asylum, education, and a better way of life.  If this nation wasn’t so great, would these people want to come?  Their migration is evidence that life in our country is way better than that of other places.

Somewhere, somehow, a group of hard working folks, many of them Christians, adopted a scarcity mentality, and allowed themselves to be provoked to hatred, forgetting their values.  Hitting them right below the basic-securities-of-life belt, fear overtook their minds and reduced this country to a nation of hateful, jealous, insecure, and narrow-thinking clans.

Our continued participation in denying basic human needs to people who come knocking at our doors has turned this new “Great America” into the pit of hell.   People are angry; races are clashing; too many are physically suffering and even dying.   My Christian brothers and sisters, is this the fulfillment of the law?   The fulfillment of the law is to love one another.   (Romans 13: 9-10:   “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”)

Matthew 25: 41-46 goes on to say this:

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I’d say that’s the proverbial writing on the border wall, wouldn’t you?

You cannot profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ and simultaneously support building a border wall and turning away those in need.   Your thoughts, beliefs, and actions are in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the birth of whom you’re busying yourself to celebrate.  My guess is that, this season, He’d prefer the gift we all open to be our hearts.

There is Relief in Release

gender
Photo by Hafidz Alifuddin on Pexels.com

 

Have you ever noticed how badly you feel when you’re all backed up?

Stay with me here.  This isn’t just “toilet talk”.  Think about how you feel when you can’t go.  You feel full, bloated, weighed down, cranky and miserable.    Luckily, there are remedies for a sluggish bowel, and with the right remedy comes the relief of having gotten rid of all that icky stuff.  You feel lighter, slimmer, and happier!

I believe we were designed to be a “through system”, meaning that things are to pass through us and not stay inside us.   (Otherwise, we would have come with better storage options that didn’t make us crazy.)  Our bodies take in food for its nutritional value, extract what’s needed and necessary, and then discard that which no longer serves a purpose.  It’s a beautiful system if you think about it.

Unfortunately, we are a collector society.  We fill our homes with stuff and when our homes can’t hold any more, we pay people to hold the rest of it.   And what about all that other stuff we hold onto?   Emotions, labels, clutter, trauma, drama, dogma.

It takes a lot of energy to hold onto things and hold them in.   (If you don’t believe me, just remind yourself what it feels like when you’re still waiting for last night’s fettuccine to come on through. )   So many women come to me storing stress and fatigue in their muscle tissues.    When asked what ails them before their massages, a story of what’s happening in their lives always follows the description of where and what hurts.

It’s impossible to live a drama-free, stress-free life.  Things happen to us, and they happen, I believe, to shape us and mold us.   The hiccup comes when, instead of experiencing something and allowing it to pass through us, we decide to store it.  We put on weight.  We get depressed.  We grow tumors or cancers.  We suffer from auto-immune diseases, muscle tension, and fibromyalgia.  Books and studies abound on how trauma is stored in our tissues.   I’ve met so many women living with daily, wide-spread pain who have experienced grief, trauma, or feel beaten down (by life or a person).  They are literally living a big hurt.  Now, I’m not making light of this at all.    Our tender hearts aren’t the only organs to take on the pain and punishment of our lives.

Like a ship taking on water or an aircraft that has exceeded it’s weight capacity for flight, our emotional density can keep us from sailing or soaring through life.   The weight we shoulder is not just physical weight (many times it is) but the weight of an oppressed spirit.   How is it that our bodies can correct the back up of things unwanted and unneeded but our minds cannot?  The good news is it can if we are willing.  We can start by acknowledging what we’re storing.  We can say, “I don’t need that.  I don’t want it.  And it costs too much to keep it.”  Dealing with things appropriately and then letting them move through us is the key.

It’s possible that digging deep and dealing with your pain, rather than covering it over and stuffing it down and storing it, will bring about huge changes in your life.  In fact, I know it will.  You’ll experience a lightness of being.  It’s also possible that your physical body will begin to heal as well.  Whether you’re letting go of muscle tension, a grudge, or your bowels or bladder, great relief always follows the release.

So what’s it going to be?  You can be a colander and allow pain to pass through you like water, or you can be a pot and eventually boil over.    No, you really aren’t a better, tougher person for holding onto your garbage, shouldering everything, and storing it in perpetuity.  Remember, it’s called waste for a reason…and it’s really a waste of life to hold onto it.

So, ask yourself:   “What’s my plan for the stuff that I’m storing?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sap is for Suckers…

Tree with sunlight

Photo credit:  Diane Markley

Today is my third wedding anniversary.  Of course, it never entered my mind until I received a text from my husband, who is working away, wishing me a happy anniversary.  “You’re such a dude,” he says when I miscalculated the years we’ve been together and married.  We laughed about this in that way you laugh via technology, but it’s completely true. I am the dude in this relationship.

As a young girl, I wrote romantic prose and read poetry and believed in “happily ever after.”   I believed in Prince Charming and white picket fences and soul mates.  I’m not sure where I picked up these ideals.  Perhaps Snow White and Cinderella had something to do with it.  I was, after all, the generation to cut my teeth on Walt Disney films.

Growing through my teens and twenties, I became less trusting.  I thought each betrayal or rejection had something to do with my being intrinsically unlovable.  I began to look at love through a filter, a very steely filter.  “Sap is for suckers,” I would say to myself.  The more sentimental a thing, the less I trusted it.  Soon, I found myself listing toward the analytical and logical when it came to potential suitors, each one being subjected to a checklist in my head rather than a feeling in my heart.  My brain was now the more trustworthy organ.  Like a muscle that atrophies from being unused, I eventually lost access to my heart.    I could no longer feel that gooey-ness we all come to believe is love.

There is a scene from the 1987 romantic comedy, Moonstruck, that speaks to me. Loretta (Cher) wakes up beside Ronny (Nicolas Cage) and realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.  After all, she’s engaged to be married to his brother.  She says she still intends to marry Johnny and that they are both going to take this secret to their graves.  Ronny says he can’t do that and when she asks why not, Ronny declares, “Because I’m in love with you.”  Loretta pauses, slaps Ronny across the face, twice, and yells, “Snap out of it!

Cher became my hero in that scene.

Of course, by the end of the movie, Ronny was able to win her over.  “Love don’t make things nice,” he says to her.  “It ruins everything.  It breaks your heart.  It makes things a mess.  We aren’t here to make things perfect.  The snowflakes are perfect.  The stars are perfect.  Not us.  Not us!  We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.”

And this, THIS, is what Walt Disney forgot to tell me.   That, at times, love is messy and hard and imperfect.  That the people we love don’t always get it right, nor do we.  That love isn’t just about butterflies and violins playing in the background.   It isn’t about a man choosing, and thereby completing, a woman.  It definitely isn’t about Happily Ever After…at least not the way Walt Disney portrayed it.

Rather, love is moments of happiness and opportunities for tenderness.  Love is lessons in compassion.   It’s sacrifices and give and take.  Sometimes, it’s steely silence followed by eventual softening.   It’s granting do-overs.   It’s forgiveness and, yes, even forgetting when necessary.  Love is, I am discovering at 50 years old and three years into this marriage, a verb.   It’s extending yourself, giving of yourself, paying attention, listening.  It’s communicating.  It’s partnering.  Love is all of these actions, and many more, knitted together in a shared life.  It isn’t one, misunderstood state of being that conjures up birds and butterflies and lilies in a field on a warm sunny day, although you can certainly experience those things with the one that you love.

Love as a verb is a muscle well-exercised.  And we all know that the more you use a muscle, the stronger it grows.  The more it is stretched, the more flexible it becomes.   So while the Hallmark channel movies still give my husband the warm fuzzies (something he wishes I would stop broadcasting), I no longer feel left out when I don’t melt under their magic.   I’ve rediscovered the concept of human love, real love, and I know that picture-perfect, sappy dramas are not it.   Despite believing that my heart had been inaccessible, I realize it was, in fact, learning, growing and maturing into this new understanding.

Sorry, Walt.  I still believe sap is for suckers.  Love is for the strong who are willing to put in the effort.  Love is a verb.

 

 

Flexing the right muscle…

woman girl fitness
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

In the world of massage therapy, one of the things we learn is that every muscle, or group of muscles, has an opposing or antagonist muscle, or group of muscles.  An antagonist muscle is one that contracts while another relaxes in order to perform a motion.  For example, when flexing your elbow, your biceps and triceps work together to make this movement possible.  But they aren’t doing the same job.  They’re actually doing opposite jobs.

We also learn that muscles have memory.  No, they don’t actually remember things.  Muscle memory is not stored in your actual muscles.  Rather, it is an unconscious process of your brain that remembers a muscle’s movement when made repeatedly and over time.  A long-term memory is created allowing the task to be performed without conscious effort.  For instance, because I have given thousands of massages over the last ten years, there are a lot of elements of my massage that are automatic.  In other words, I don’t have to give much thought to performing them.   My hands just know where to go and what motions to make to soothe your aching back.  You could say that muscle memory is habitual.

Depending on what motion you’re making, one muscle (or muscle group) may become overdeveloped with all that repetition.  The result is sometimes soreness or even a repetitive stress injury seen so often in massage therapists.   At times, we therapists don’t start paying attention until something begins to hurt.  Maybe our wrists become so painful that we begin employing our elbows or forearms in our massages.  Of course, because we’re not used to this new way of doing things, we don’t have the muscle memory yet.  So it takes some practice and attention to break out of our routine and develop a new one.  I, personally, have experienced this numerous times.   There are only so many tiny, pressurized circles my right thumb is willing to make before I can no longer stand making even one.

But, lately, I’ve been working on developing a different type of muscle memory because it occurred to me that a life-long habit of looking on the not-so-bright side of everything was being overdeveloped.   Flexing that muscle was automatic. I was becoming aware that most of my thoughts were negative.  Consequently, so was most of what I said.   This awareness of how I was thinking and speaking happened over and over again, as though a spotlight was being shown on this awful habit.  I envisioned God doing a soul correction on me.  “There, right there.  You’re doing it again,” I’d hear Him say in my head (sometimes with a British accent just for fun).

Just like a repetitive stress injury, it took the pain of recognizing this in myself to make me pay attention and start doing things differently.   Looking for blessings, opportunities and possibilities takes some practice if you’re not normally inclined to do so.   Obviously, I am not.   Given what I know about muscle memory,  I know learning a new, long-lasting way to be will take a while to develop.  Toward that end, I’ve had to put some new actions in place, a new exercise regimen, if you will.

First, I immediately cast down negative thoughts when I have them.  As soon as I recognize what I’m thinking, I say “No, no!  Not going there!”  You’d be amazed at how much power that alone holds.  It’s like putting on the parking brake before your car rolls down the hill.  (It’s also super helpful to say it out loud.  Gives it that extra “oomph!”)  You’d also be amazed at how many times you find yourself saying this during the day if you’re paying attention.  I found casting down thoughts in the beginning stages to be a full-time occupation.

From there, I replace the thought with something new and uplifting.  I go to the opposite of what I was thinking.  Can’t find a positive?  No problem.  I just start listing my blessings and praising God for what I have, even if it’s completely unrelated.  I start thanking Him for my home, my health, my car…you name it.  If this takes me off-topic from the garbage going through my mind or about to come out of my mouth, mission accomplished!

A simple prayer has done wonders for me.  I pray Psalm 51:10 many times a day. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”   The key here is to actually mean it and be willing to be changed inside.   When I pray this prayer, I think of God erasing the big chalkboard that is my heart and drawing a new picture on it with sidewalk chalk.  One that is more pleasing to Him.

And, finally, when things get really tough, and I’m struggling with something that really has a hold on me, I simply say, “Lord, this battle is yours, not mine.”  I pass the baton to God and envision Him fighting the battle for me, and I walk away from it.  I employ my favorite interruption, cleaning.  (Yours might be exercise, running, cooking.  Whatever it is, do something physical.)  While the house is getting a good vacuuming, God is waging a light saber battle in the background, minus the spitting sound effects my brother used to make.    At least that’s how I picture it happening.

Naturally, this process isn’t always clean and neat…or easy.  Sometimes it takes drastic measures, like keeping different company if you realize you and a friend bond over talking smack about people.  Or my personal favorite, saying nothing because I can’t find anything nice to say.  (I’ve noticed I’ve been spending a lot of time in silence lately.)  I assure you there’s no perfection in this.  Sometimes, I still complain and whine.  And that’s okay.  Every muscle likes to get used now and again.  My ultimate goal, however, is to retrain myself to look on the bright side.  I have to admit, it’s working.  It does get easier and easier as I exercise my option and ability to see life as the gift that it is.   And like anything done in repetition over the long haul, I’m hoping optimism and positive thoughts become my buff muscle.

 

 

 

 

 

It only took 35 years…

I’m surprised to be sitting here at the keyboard, putting my thoughts to the screen with the intention of pressing “Publish” when I’m finished.   It’s not that I doubt my ability to write.  Rather, it’s the vulnerability of doing so, of making what goes on in my head (and heart) public, that scares me.   You see, thirty-five years ago, and just a sophomore in high school, I had written a note to a boy I thought was my friend.  Hours after passing it to him in the hallway, another of my friends came to me with it crumpled in her hand.  In hushed tones, she explained how she had rescued it from one of the bulletin boards when she recognized the writing.  I don’t know how long it had been up there or how many students had laughed at what I had written, but I remember feeling so exposed and embarrassed…and betrayed.  I had vowed to never put my thoughts and feelings to the page again, lest I relive the sting of being made a public spectacle.

A few years later as a young 20-something working at a museum, I would befriend a coworker who would encourage me to write again.  It took some coaxing, but he raved at the “voice” of my pieces and my “largeness of mind”.   It’s possibly true that I loved the attention and enthusiasm he had for my writing, and for me by extension, and my ego knew the only way to keep it coming was to continue to put brilliant thoughts to the page.    But my writing took only the form of personal letters and emails and entries into journals that piled up in the corner of my closet despite his encouragement that I should write an actual book.

Well, the book is still taking form and shape in my mind and looks more like a hot mess of unrelated thoughts in tons of hand scribbled notebooks.  Maybe some day, I say to myself.  In the meantime, I have been writing posts on a range of topics that interest me and sharing them through my business Face Book page and a friend’s business website as a guest writer.  I love being able to write a short piece about a specific topic, share my idea, and let it go.   So while blogging would seem to be a great avenue to express myself in this way, it still carries the weight of apprehension with it.  This is, after all, much larger than the high school hallway bulletin board.

So, sink or swim, here it goes.   I’m hoping to make Brene’ Brown, PhD, LMSW, and the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt proud as I “dare greatly” and enter the public writing arena.   And although my former museum coworker dislikes introspection, something I now tackle regularly through my writing, I’m sure he would be pleased that I was taking this first step.   Here’s to you, my dear old friend.  Thanks for your years of cheer leading and believing in my writing…and for planting the first seed that this could be possible.